grammatical expression: I hate to think…


Today I have a common expression that English speakers use: “I hate to think…”. It is used when we want to talk about  a situation that  we don’t know the details about but which we imagine as being very negative. For example:

Living downtown was very expensive even 20 years ago. I hate to think how much it costs nowadays.

Paul is a very slow worker. I hate to think how long it will take him to finish this project.

My father hates my boyfriend. I hate to think what he’s going to say when I tell him we’re getting married.

My children were playing with matches near the gas stove. I hate to think what would have happened if I hadn’t gotten home when I did.

In all of these examples, the person is anticipating a negative situation (very expensive apartments, a long time for Paul to finish the project, the father being angry about the news his daughter is marrying her boyfriend, the house catching on fire), but it’s only what they imagine will or would happen.

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